Bryce Drew: GCU basketball will have best team in school history next year

Feb 24, 2023, 6:36 PM

Grand Canyon Antelopes head coach Bryce Drew visits the Bickley & Marotta show on Friday, Feb. 24, ...

Grand Canyon Antelopes head coach Bryce Drew visits the Bickley & Marotta show on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Phoenix (Sarah Kezele/Arizona Sports)

(Sarah Kezele/Arizona Sports)

The Grand Canyon Antelopes are coming off school records in field goal percentage (66.7%) and 3-point shooting (55.3%) against a Division I opponent on Feb. 17 vs. Abilene Christian.

The ‘Lopes have three games to go with hopes of getting a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament first-round bye and possibly an NCAA Tournament bid. With WAC Preseason Player of the Year Jovan Blacksher Jr. out for the year with an ACL tear and other injuries throughout the season, it’s been a roller-coaster-like year for GCU.

“A lot of ups and downs,” head coach Bryce Drew told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “We wanted to win the conference regular-season championship. We are not going to do that this year, which is disappointing. But we have an aggressive plan. We can’t wait for the offseason and we’re going to have the best team in school history next year.”

With a high ceiling already reached, it may be difficult for them to surpass it. It’s been a successful run for Drew at GCU, who is in the midst of his third season with the program. In his first year as head coach in 2020-21, he led GCU to its first WAC championship and NCAA Tournament berth in school history.

Although, there is a good amount of optimism surrounding the program despite what the results of this season are, with all five starters expected to return next year and “an aggressive plan” to attack the transfer portal.

There is also a lot of buzz surrounding the growth of the WAC. Now that the WAC is ranked right below the Atlantic 10 in Rating Percentage Index out of all Division I conferences, GCU is close-to-par with programs such as Davidson and Loyola Chicago, who are at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 standings.

“I think (the WAC is) the strongest it has been in years and I think that’s a great credit again to our president,” Drew said.

“I think he spearheaded a lot of quality teams that have come in the league and as you look at it and you compare it on a national scene, you guys know basketball and sports, us and the Atlantic 10 are basically neck and neck for being ranked where we are as conferences — 12 and 13 in the country. When I took the job, we were in the mid-20s. Now we are all the way up to 13.”

The ‘Lopes are focused on the present with a chance to do something special this season, but it’s hard to not look ahead at the future.

“This year obviously, what we want to do is ahead of us,” Drew said. “We have a chance to make the tournament. But next year, we are all heals to the ground and ready to go in terms of turning this thing into a national powerhouse.”

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